SCHERERVILLE | Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said young African-American males commit the majority of crimes in Lake County, especially in the county’s three urban areas of East Chicago, Hammond and Gary.
Carter gave an impassioned, no-holds-barred talk at Friday's meeting of the Lake County Advancement Committee at Teibel’s Restaurant.
“African-Americans make up 24 percent of the population in Lake County, but are in the 70th percentile of crimes my office prosecutes,” said Carter, who is African-American.
He grew up in Gary and East Chicago in what he described as a “loving family with a mother and father who had high expectations and who valued an education.”
The situation in Lake County and around the nation “is not acceptable and it’s not racist,” he said.
An elected official running on the Democratic ticket, Carter said politicians of all races and political parties “don’t want to talk about it.”
GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan talked about the lack of responsibility displayed by young black males and was lambasted for it, he said.
“Paul Ryan is right, but he’ll probably back off that stand,” Carter said.
The violence in the black community isn’t because of poverty alone, according to the prosecutor.
“It’s about taking ownership,” Carter said. “They have lost their ambition. They need to get their morals straight.”
Parents hold ultimate responsibility for raising their children with values, and too many black males are missing from the families they help create, often with young girls, Carter said.
“We’re prosecuting a 21-year-old right now who has fathered six children by six different females, some of them minors, which is what we’re prosecuting him on,” he said.
The ones bailing the young African-American males out of jail or sitting in the courtroom when they are tried are females of all ages, Carter said.
“A woman says she raised three children by herself. That’s nothing to be proud of. It’s a damn insult,” he said.
The Lake County prosecutor’s office has been successful in pursuing fathers who don’t financially support their children, Carter said, bringing in nearly $10 million during June, July and August.
“We have a situation in this country where we aren’t taking care of the children. You can put a police officer on every corner, and you’re not going to reduce crime,” Carter said, adding that law enforcement, including his office, only can catch a scant 3 percent of the perpetrators.
That means that 97 percent of the people who commit crimes are never brought to justice, he said.
Fear of retaliation and poverty of spirit keep neighbors in these cities from reporting crime, so it festers and feeds on those in the urban communities, Carter said.